Friday, April 26, 2013

An Interview with Barry Lyga: I Hunt Killers and The Game

I Hunt Killers

1. How did you get started writing about serial killers?

It was sort of an accident, if you want to know the truth. My editor and I were chatting one day about the projects I was working on. One of them was very complicated, so I described it as “a real killer.” She thought I said “serial killer.” Long story short, I ended up with the idea for I Hunt Killers!
2. Cheeseburgers or sushi?

Oh, man! What an impossible choice! I’m tempted to say something like, “Let’s split the difference — raw burgers!” But, no. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but...sushi.
3. What is your favorite kind of character to write about?

I like honest characters. I like characters who tell it the way they see it, even if — as in the case of Billy Dent — the “way they see it” is twisted and vile beyond belief. Lisa McMann once said that I write about “broken heroes,” and I think that’s probably right. I seem to be attracted to characters who are broken on some fundamental level, but who realize it and try to deal with it.
4. Tell us a little about Game. What kind of adventures are we going to be glued to?

Game expands the scope of the series. We move from the tiny town of Lobo’s Nod to New York City, though there are still things happening back in the Nod. We have more points of view this time — in addition to Jazz, you’ll also see events through Connie’s eyes, through Howie’s, and, yes, through Billy’s. The body count is higher, the stakes are higher, and I promise you this: Not everyone you meet comes out of this thing alive.
5. Best vacation spot ever?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Scotland...

6. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Easy — coffee! But I don’t actually drink coffee. Weird, eh?

7. Are you a Dexter fan? What about Walking Dead?

I deliberately don’t watch Dexter. People already compare my books to that show, so I don’t want to even accidentally repeat something that they do. As to Walking Dead: I was sick recently, so I watched the whole series from the beginning to the latest season on Netflix. I recently blogged about how most of the characters really aren’t all that bright, but for all that, it’s a very compelling show and I plan to keep watching it.

8. Pantster or plotter and how do you decide how long to make your chapters?

Eh, to be honest with you, I’m not all that interested in the weird sort of dichotomy people try to enforce between “pantsers” and “plotters.” I think they’re false notions. “Pantsers” are plotting — they just do it in their heads, usually subconsciously. And “plotters” often go off-script and let their stories lead them down different paths. I don’t find it a useful distinction.
As to chapter length, I always think of the words of my high school Spanish teacher: When we would ask how long an essay had to be, she would respond, “It’s like a skirt: Long enough to cover the topic, but short enough to be interesting.”
9. Where do you see the series going?

I’ve already written the last chapter of the series. I’ve known where it’s headed pretty much since the beginning. And I ain’t tellin’! 

10. What is your best advice for anyone wanting to write YA?

I don’t have any advice specifically for YA writers — I think good writing advice is good writing advice, period. That said: “Just do it ‘til it’s done.” A friend of mine told me that once when I was struggling to finish something. I was getting all caught up in details and specifics, projected ahead to the revision process… And he reminded me: “Just do it ‘til it’s done.” At the end of the day, writing is about sitting down and typing until you get to the end. Sometimes we have a tendency to overcomplicate it and that gets us all tangled up in ourselves. Cut through that tangle. Just write. Figure out if it’s good or if it sucks later, and fix it if you have to. But first — get it done.

Called a “YA rebel-author” by Kirkus Reviews, Barry Lyga has published eleven novels in various genres in his seven-year career, including the New York Timesbestselling I Hunt Killers. His books have been or are slated to be published in ten different languages in North America, Australia, Europe, and Asia.
After graduating from Yale with a degree in English, Lyga worked in the comic book industry before quitting to pursue his lifelong love of writing. In 2006, his first young adult novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, was published to rave reviews, including starred reviews from Booklist andSchool Library JournalPublisher’s Weekly named Lyga a “Flying Start” in December 2006 on the strength of the debut.
Barry Lyga publicity pic
His second young adult novel, Boy Toy, received starred reviews in SLJPublishers Weekly, and KirkusVOYA gave it its highest critical rating, and the Chicago Tribune called it “…an astounding portrayal of what it is like to be the young male victim.” His third novel, Hero-Type, according to VOYA ”proves that there are still fresh ideas and new, interesting story lines to be explored in young adult literature.”
Since then, he has also written Goth Girl Rising (the sequel to his first novel), as well as the Archvillain series for middle-grade readers and the graphic novel Mangaman (with art by Colleen Doran).
His latest series is I Hunt Killers, called by the LA Times “one of the more daring concepts in recent years by a young-adult author” and an “extreme and utterly alluring narrative about nature versus nurture.” The first book landed on both the New York Times and USAToday bestsellers lists, and the series has been optioned for television by Warner Bros./Silver Pictures.
Lyga lives and writes in New York City. His comic book collection is a lot smaller than it used to be, but is still way too big.

Thank you for being here today Barry!


  1. Thanks for showing up such fabulous information. I have bookmarked you and will remain in line with your new posts. I like this post, keep writing and give informative post...!

  2. Is there going to be a third book?

    1. There is going to a third book. I don't know what it is going to be called, but I can't wait!


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